The key issues facing SAA are as follows:
1. Rationalization of the narrowbody fleet: the A32X/737NG mix clearly does not make much sense in the long-run and my guess is that SAA will go with Airbus. Where that leaves Mango and its 738s is unclear, but posts above seem to indicate that the 738 may be retained for this mission.
2. Medium capacity widebody fleet: SAA has a mix of A342s (acquired second hand from LH
) and new build A343 (some of which were leased out to Jet)....I assume that before SAA makes any commitment for newer airliners in this class, it must sort out and finalize its longhaul route system. SAA has recently added some longhaul routes while dropping others to Europe, their strategy is not exactly clear. The A342s are getting older, and while they are certainly not in need of immediate replacement, its time to start planning.....and $100/bbl oil is another factor to consider. Clearly, this is a 787 vs A350 competition.
3. VLA: Does SAA require an airplane bigger than the A346? I think that SAA is at a disadvantage on the busy LHR
routes without an aircraft is the 748I or A380 category.....but the financial case for a small fleet of rather expensive high capacity airplanes is a difficult one due to the fact that 2 aircraft are required to run these routes if overnight services are to be offered in each direction (which is the schedule preferred by most pax, and especially those important premium full fare pax.)
Interesting times......can SAA afford to invest in new aircraft once again without wrecking its finances? And, while some predict that SAA will go all Airbus, I am not so sure. We heard how AC
was going all Airbus until the 787/777 order was placed, we heard that LH
was going all Airbus until it surprised a lot of people by launching the 748I....thus, time will tell what SAA does.